Seven people have been confirmed dead after an embankment collapsed onto a house in Ellen Road in Malvern this morning, Highway Mail reports.
The house, situated in Ellen Road, was destroyed by a mudslide on Monday night.
Four bodies were recovered early on Tuesday morning following extensive efforts by search and rescue teams, who were hampered by the inclement weather.
Later on Tuesday, rescue efforts resumed, with scores of community members and neighbours offering their time to help clear the rubble. Stunned family members, friends, and neighbours watched as operations were underway.
The bodies of two additional children and one adult female were recovered just after 11am.
“Seven people have passed away at this address. Four children and three adults,” said Rescue Care’s Garrith Jamieson.
At a press briefing earlier on Tuesday, cooperative governance and traditional affairs (COGTA) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said the death toll stood at 23, with scores more injured.
The number of dead is likely to rise as additional bodies are recovered, as in the case of the Malvern home.
Dube-Ncube said that over 2,000 emergency calls were received on Monday night and that so far, the area had experienced over 300 mm of rain.
While the rainfall subsided by noon, more showers are expected in the afternoon, according to the South African Weather Service.
“Massive damage has been inflicted on public and private infrastructure. From where we stand, we have reports of collapsed walls and mudslides, as well as roads that have been flooded. Parts of the province are also experiencing power failures as a result of the extreme weather,” said Dube-Ncube.
COGTA and eThekwini Municipality had sourced help from the Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) and iLembe (Stanger, Ballito) areas, she said.
“Most of the deaths are from [areas in and around] Chatsworth, Umlazi, and New Germany, where two children below seven years of age were killed.”
“The weather is not going to be abating soon, as the weather centre is reporting that we will receive 60% rain today and gale force winds will be coming from the southern part of KZN.
“We will be moving to the ground to conduct assessments. Some rivers have broken their banks and we urge people to be extra cautious. We are also issuing warnings for the northern parts of KZN including King Cetshwayo District Municipality [Richards Bay area],” said Dube-Ncube.
Displaced communities would be temporarily accommodated in community halls and would receive emergency relief assistance.
“At this stage, the focus remains on recovery and the provision of relief efforts while assessments of damages are underway. We will only know the figures when these assessments have been completed. Damages are however estimated to run into millions of rand,” she said.
(Citizen reporter and ANA)